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Bakersfield Christian High School runningback Matt Smith, right, hugs fellow player Tyler Lazano after defeating Mission Oak High School 35-34 in the CIF championship game in Tulare Friday. Zach Balfanz, left, and quarterback Brandon Jones, far left, celebrate the championship.

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A Bakersfield Christian High School coach Sean Lazano congratulates #10 after making an interception and running it back lots of yards in the 4th quarter against MIssion Oak High School in Tulare.

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BCHS quarterback Brandon Jones is thankful after the win against Mission Oak High School Friday in Tulare 35-34 in the CIF championship game.

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BCHS runningback Matt Smith had a great game Friday against Mission Oak High School in Tulare.

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BCHS runningback Keith Blank is tackled by a Mission Oak player in the third quarter Friday in Tulare.

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The winning BCHS team celebrates at the CIF championship game Friday against Mission Oak High School in Tulare 35-34.

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BCHS quarterback Brandon Jones was happy with the win along with the entire team Friday after defeating Mission Oak High School in the CIF championship game in Tulare.

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BCHS runningback Matt Smith breaks away from Mission Oaks linebacker Trent Reed Friday in Tulare.

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BCHS quarterback Brandon Jones releases the pass in time before Mission Oak High School defensive lineman Armon Hunter gets in for the tackle Friday in Tulare.

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BCHS defensive back Donald Harris, right, tries for an interception but wide receiver for Mission Oak High's team Koby Tripp makes the catch instead, which was intended for him Friday in Tulare.

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BCHS quarterback Brandon Jones gets a nice pass off to a receiver while Mission Oak defense hutsles in on him Friday in Tulare.

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Mission Oak runningback Elijah Porchia fumbles the ball as he is tackled by BCHS player Hayden Kuchta.

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Casey Christie / The Californian

BCHS fans cheer their team on Friday while playing against Mission Oak High School in Tulare.

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Casey Christie / The Californian

Mission Oak High School defensive back Paul Porchia makes a nice interception catch intended for BCHS wide receiver Josh Jackson during Friday's championship game in Tulare.

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A pass intended for Mission Oak HIgh player Leandre Jefferson is deflected by several BCHS players including Keith Blank, left, and Austin Duffield.

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It was a cold night for football in Tulare at the BCHS vs. Mission Oak game, but this spectator was definitely prepared for the cold evening.

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The BCHS team was happy after kicking the go ahead field goal in the fourth quarter with only a short period of time left in the game Friday against Mission Oak High.

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Mission Oak runningback Elijah Porchia scored three touchdowns Friday against BCHS in Tulare.

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Casey Christie / The Californian

BCHS coaches give instructions from the sidelines during Friday's championship game in Tulare.

TULARE -- They were down, but never out.

Bakersfield Christian took plenty of potentially knockout shots at the hands of top-seeded Tulare-Mission Oak during Friday's Central Section Division IV championship game.

But playing with a fierce determination, the Eagles took the blows and kept on battling.

That never-say-die mentality ultimately paid off, as No. 3 BCHS rallied from an early 20-0 deficit to claim a thrilling 35-34 victory over the Hawks at Bob Mathias Stadium.

"When you start working out at the end of January, it's hard to give up," BCHS coach Jerald Pierucci said. "It's just a testament to our kids that they've bought-in so much. They never ever stopped believing."

Matt Smith scored on a fourth-and-goal, one-yard run with 3:07 remaining in the game and then the Eagles defense shut down Mission Oak's high-powered offense to clinch the victory.

"We all wanted this this game so much," Smith said. "We had a big chip on our shoulder from last year, losing to Wasco (in the championship game). ... After falling behind 20-0, we didn't give up. We didn't say 'oh that's the end.' We rallied-up and we got the win."

It's third third section title for BCHS, which won back-to-back Division V championships in 2007 and 2008.

The Eagles title chances didn't appear likely much for much of the game as they trailed until Smith finally put them over the top with his third TD run.

Leading 34-28 and the clock winding down, Mission Oak was 52 yards away from all but sealing its first-ever section championship in any sport, when BCHS senior linebacker Grant Bauma intercepted a pass by Hawks quarterback Trey McJunkin and ran it back 32 yards.

Moments later Smith cruised into the end zone with a pitch from BCHS signal caller Brandon Jones.

"I saw the guy behind me and I just went underneath it," Bauma said of his interception. "I just tried not to drop it and ran for my life."

Smith finished with 117 yards rushing, putting the junior over 5,000 yards from scrimmage for his high school career.

"If there's any doubt who the best back in the valley is, I don't know what to say," Pierucci said. "Because Smith just put this whole offense on his back, a long with the offensive line and carried us."

Elijah Porchia had 245 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries for Mission Oak, which was held to just seven points in the second half.

Jones, who came into the game with a BCHS single-season record of 47 touchdown passes, completed 15-of-29 throws for 182 yards and a pair of scores.

He also had three interceptions but was able to guide BCHS to five touchdowns against a defense that hadn't allowed more than 21 points in a game all season.

"I didn't play a great game myself but my offense backed me up," Jones said. "Our defense gave up a couple of scores quick. That's just our season. We come back and we're stronger than ever. I just love my team."

The win, Bakersfield Christian's 11th in a row after starting the season 0-2, puts it in good position to be selected for a Division IV state playoff berth.

Mission Oak, the only undefeated team in the section coming into the game, led 27-14 after a wild first half.

The Hawks jump out to a quick 20-0 lead, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions while holding BCHS without a first down until midway through the first quarter.

Porchia did most of the early damage for Mission Oak, ripping off first-quarter touchdown runs of 51 and 73 yards.

The Hawks 2,000-yard rusher had 149 yards on the ground during the game's first 12 minutes.

BCHS recovered from its slow start to cut the Mission Oak deficit to 20-14 with 7:07 left in the first half on a spectacular 27 yard touchdown run by Matt Smith.

Smith took a handoff from Jones, ran through a tackler and then did a 360-spin to break free for the score.

But after forcing a Hawks' three-and-out, Jones floated a high pass over the middle that was intercepted by Trent Reed.

Two plays later Trey McJunkin connected with LeAndre Jefferson for a 49-yard touchdown pass to extend the Hawks advantage to 27-14.

The pass was under thrown but Jefferson was able to come back for the ball, tip it up to himself and then race into the end zone.